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Amazon announces faster, smarter streaming sticks and new Fire TV Soundbar

Amazon announces faster, smarter streaming sticks and new Fire TV Soundbar


Plus, the company is promising a much more helpful Alexa voice experience on Fire TV — and better search — coming this fall.

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Image: Amazon

Today, Amazon is introducing its latest streaming players, the upgraded Fire TV Stick 4K ($49.99) and Fire TV Stick 4K Max ($59.99). During the company’s fall hardware event, Amazon’s Daniel Rausch said both devices feature upgraded processors for faster performance compared to their predecessors.

The standard Fire TV Stick 4K is 30 percent more powerful than the previous model, offers Wi-Fi 6, and 4K streaming along with broad HDR support for Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10 Plus. The Max builds on top of that with Wi-Fi 6E and twice the storage (now 16GB) than the prior version. For a difference of just $10, I’m not sure who wouldn’t opt for the Max over the regular stick, but not everyone needs those frills for all of their TVs, I suppose.

A screenshot of Amazon’s new Fire TV Soundbar.
The Fire TV Soundbar is aggressively priced at $119.99.
Image: Amazon

Rausch also announced a new $119.99 Fire TV Soundbar that will be compatible with the company’s existing streamers and Fire TV-branded televisions. He didn’t make any big claims about sound quality, so it sounds like this is being positioned as a simple solution for anyone who wants to step up from their TV’s built-in speakers. The Fire TV Soundbar is available beginning today.

During his presentation, Rausch demoed a smarter, more comprehensive Alexa voice experience coming to Fire TV products that’s based on Amazon’s new LLM Alexa model. Once the software update is released later this year, search will get more powerful, with Alexa able to whittle down recommendations based on your conversation. A new “continue watching” row will aggregate content from Amazon Freevee, Disney Plus, Hulu, Max, MGM Plus, Peacock, Starz, and Tubi, putting recently watched shows and movies front and center.

A screenshot of the new Fire TV Alexa experience.
Alexa on Fire TV will be getting more helpful later this fall.
Image: Alexa

The new Fire TV Stick 4K Max will also be getting the “ambient experience” first seen on the company’s Fire TV televisions, which displays artwork and widgets and basically converts the TV screen into a smart display whenever you’re not actively using it. Later this year, customers will be able to create generative backgrounds with the help of AI:

Customers can also create artwork using just their voice with AI Art. This free feature, which will begin rolling out to customers in the U.S. by the end of this year, allows customers to easily generate a personalized background by giving Alexa an imagination-driven prompt, such as, “Alexa, create an image of cherry blossoms in the snow,” and watch as that prompt is translated into a unique display on the Fire TV screen.

There have been signs of a pending Fire TV 4K Stick refresh over the last few weeks, with dwindling stock of the previous Fire TV Stick 4K Max at many retailers — and from Amazon itself.